Chapter 4: Death Is Life
In 1857, at a time of revolution in India, British soldiers killed a sannyasin. He had been silent for thirty years. People had asked him, “Why are you going to become silent?” and he had said, “What I want to say I cannot say because words are inadequate, and what I can say I don’t want to say because it is insignificant.” And then for thirty years he was silent. He used to wander around naked, silent.
Once, in the night, he was walking on the road and nearby there was a British military camp. They seized him, thinking him to be a spy. They asked him many times, “Who are you?” But whenever they asked him the question he just laughed. He was in silence, so he couldn’t answer. And who has ever been able to answer the question, “Who am I?”? It has never been possible to give an answer to that question. When you find the answer, there is nobody there in you to answer and, as long as you are there, the answer is not there.
So this puzzle has not been solved yet and will never be solved. When the seeker gets dissolved, only then is the answer achieved - but then the answer no longer has any meaning. While the seeker exists, the answer cannot be found. So the answer cannot be given because it has not been found.
The sannyasin laughed heartily. The more he laughed, the more angry the soldiers got, and in the end they stabbed the sannyasin in the chest with their bayonets. They thought that he was deceiving them.
At the time of his death he spoke two words - he broke his thirty years’ silence. And the answer that he gave was really strange. The soldiers were asking him, “Who are you?” He did not give any answer to this, but at the moment of his death he opened his eyes and laughed again and he spoke a great line from the Upanishads. He said to the British soldiers who had plunged their bayonets in him, “Tattvamasi, Svetketu! You are also that, Svetketu!”
They had asked, “Who are you?” He replied at the moment of dying, “You are also that.” He did not say, “Whosoever I am, you are also that.” That part he dropped - that is understood. He dropped saying “whosoever I am.” because who will say “I am”? There is no “I” left. He replied in a roundabout way. He said, “You are also that - that art thou.”
Who knows whether the soldiers got the hint or not; it is very unlikely that they did. The search for “Who am I?” in the end becomes the dissolution of “I.” And this search can only be done after the realization of the seventh sutra; before that it is very difficult. It is easy after the seventh stage. Now we can ask because now we are awake. Now we are filled with light, so we can ask, “Who am I?” And this question is the only religious question. You can never find its answer. It is not that you get the answer that you are godliness, you are the divine. As long as such answers come, understand that it is your memory system, your mind answering. The scriptures you have read are answering; the words you have heard are answering; the doctrines you have learned are answering.